The Kings Fund recently produced a paper that highlighted the differences in perceptions between those in Executive roles and those in clinical roles such as nurses and doctors on the quality of leadership.
In many ways this might not be a surprise. Anyone who has ever been in senior leadership role in the NHS will tell you that it is tough. There are many stakeholders, including staff whose needs have to be met.
It is also easy to forget just how large each organisation is. 3,000 plus employees is not uncommon. Simply connecting with this number of people is in itself tough.
Obviously Clinical Divisions and Directorates go some way towards breaking the organisation into smaller units but even then they are still equivalent in size to a medium sized business in the commercial sector.
While the NHS Leadership Academy, academic institutions and The Kings Fund are all doing work to help the NHS improve leadership at all levels. Perhaps the historical approach of limited investment in leadership development in the NHS is a contributor to the current situation and perceptions.
At the same time I believe there is a lot that can be done on both sides to better understand the different perspectives of different groups. Leaders and managers are encouraged to get out more and really understand front line pressures which is always valuable.
At the same time if clinical staff are given the opportunity to shadow those in non clinical roles they too can better understand what types of pressures others face.
I can recall one Registrar who attended a Leadership Course we delivered who I spoke with on a mentoring call. As part of his preparation for Consultant interviews I suggested he shadowed some non clinical leaders. He did and was soon in a Consultant job. He said that was one of the best pieces of advice he had been given as it helped him appreciate the wider agenda.
Sometimes it is the simplest of things that really make a difference to changing perceptions.
Goals and Achievements help NHS organisations to develop and improve their leadership. Learn more here.